July’s Novel Pick

The Book Thief

GoodReads Synopsis

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


I’m trying to go through all the classic and most popular novels during lockdown, so I’m sorry if you’ve already read the books I chose. But, if you haven’t read The Book Thief yet, I hope you enjoy it! I’ve heard so many great things about it and my sister has recommended it to me for years, so it’s about time I started reading it. Although the size of it is a bit daunting…

Bye x

Book Review: The Outsiders by S.E Hinton

Title: The Outsiders

Author: S.E Hinton

Publisher: Penguin Random House LLC

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser


Review

I can’t stress how much I love this book. This is the sort of novel that takes you into another universe and you completely lose track that you’re reading (I read this in a day and just couldn’t put it down!). As a reader you immediately feel an immense amount of pathos for the ‘greasers’ and fall in love with each character. S.E Hinton shows the injustice of prejudices and stereotypes that burden on lower class individuals but also shows that the competing gangs, Socs (short for society) and greasers, share loyalty and compassion within their groups. The moral message is if society focused on similarities in one another rather than differences, everyone would get along better.

It shows the struggles that all of them suffer in, like domestic abuse, poverty, sleeping rough and being a young carer, or from the Soc’s point of view, having too much responsibility, stress and pressure. The brotherly love of Sodapop, Ponyboy and Darry makes my heart melt, as well as the protection over one another in the gang, it is honestly the nicest thing to read and made me smile stupidly (maybe a tear or two). The treatment they got for simply being poor as well as the unfortunate consequences of constant misery and abuse, like death, crime and disputes, was eye-opening. Due to the fact they consider themselves as ‘outsiders’, they accepted their oppression in society and fighting was the only way they could retaliate, it takes characters like Ponyboy, Johnny and Randy to leave the vicious cycle of violence against each other. Together they realise “[they] saw the same sunset” and that the ‘greasers’ and the ‘Socs’ are just people and they disregard labels put on them.

If you haven’t read the novel yet, get to it! It has an amazing moral. Every page you flick through makes you think and feel, until the last turn and you don’t want it to be over.


If you’re interested in buying the book ‘The Outsiders’ by S.E Hinton, you can click the link here!


June’s Novel Picks

Hello! For June I have two books that I have had my eye on for a while. These books are completely different in every aspect, however, show the brutality of discrimination in social class and gender. (Perfect for a novel comparison essay!). They are…

Ignore the scruffy nail polish!

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

– summary by Goodreads

“My satire is against those who see figures and averages, and nothing else,” proclaimed Charles Dickens in explaining the theme of this classic novel. Published in 1854, the story concerns one Thomas Gradgrind, a “fanatic of the demonstrable fact,” who raises his children, Tom and Louisa, in a stifling and arid atmosphere of grim practicality.

Without a moral compass to guide them, the children sink into lives of desperation and despair, played out against the grim background of Coketown, a wretched community shadowed by an industrial behemoth. Louisa falls into a loveless marriage with Josiah Bouderby, a vulgar banker, while the unscrupulous Tom, totally lacking in principle, becomes a thief who frames an innocent man for his crime. Witnessing the degradation and downfall of his children, Gradgrind realizes that his own misguided principles have ruined their lives.

Considered Dickens’ harshest indictment of mid-19th-century industrial practices and their dehumanizing effects, this novel offers a fascinating tapestry of Victorian life, filled with the richness of detail, brilliant characterization, and passionate social concern that typify the novelist’s finest creations.

Of Dickens’ work, the eminent Victorian critic John Ruskin had this to say: “He is entirely right in his main drift and purpose in every book he has written; and all of them, but especially Hard Times, should be studied with close and earnest care by persons interested in social questions.”

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

– Summary by Goodreads

A powerful contemporary novel set in London from a master of literary fiction.

London, the week before Christmas, 2007. Over seven days we follow the lives of seven major characters: a hedge fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career; a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland; a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate; a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory; a hack book-reviewer; a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV; and a Tube train driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop.

With daring skill, the novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life. Greed, the dehumanising effects of the electronic age and the fragmentation of society are some of the themes dealt with in this savagely humorous book. The writing on the wall appears in letters ten feet high, but the characters refuse to see it — and party on as though tomorrow is a dream.

Sebastian Faulks probes not only the self-deceptions of this intensely realised group of people, but their hopes and loves as well. As the novel moves to its gripping climax, they are forced, one by one, to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit

Book Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Title: Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Publisher: Roberts Brothers

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

Background

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.


Review:

This is the perfect winter/rainy day book! I loved curling up on my chair, under a massive blanket and a hot drink next to me, reading this cosy book. I was immediately in love with the selfless characters and their admiration for each hobby they possessed (as a writer, my favourite character was obviously Jo). It wasn’t thrilling or climatic but the slow, realistic story, made it gratifying and inspiring. I don’t normally like books that don’t have an exciting incident, which made me reluctant to read this but it didn’t disappoint!

Of course, this is a classic! And, most people have read this novel or watched the numerous movies based on it, so, I won’t bore you on another review but it’s a great evening, wind-down book (if you’re like me and a bit late on reading the classic novels or maybe this is encouraging you to dig it out again!). I will definitely be picking it up later to reread it.

(Probably shouldn’t say this on a book review but the new movie was motivational and I loved every second! It made me work and start writing again the next day! I recommend that too, shhh)


If you’re interested in buying the book ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott, you can purchase it here!